Men’s Basketball: McIntosh paves way for Northwestern in front of excited home crowd


Jacob Swan/Daily Senior Staffer

Bryant McIntosh turns the corner. The sophomore guard hit big shot after big shot en route to 28 points against the Badgers.

Garrett Jochnau, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

“You can’t guard him!”

With under six minutes remaining in Northwestern’s contest against Wisconsin on Tuesday, the student section at Welsh-Ryan Arena was on its feet, chanting those words as sophomore guard Bryant McIntosh carried the Wildcats on his shoulders as they downed the visiting Badgers, 70-65.

By the game’s end, McIntosh had 28 points, five assists and a performance that NU faithful won’t soon forget.

His masterful orchestration got the Cats off to a 12-3 start, with McIntosh scoring or assisting all 12 points. Running the pick-and-roll with a veteran’s poise, the second-year guard ensured that NU (15-3, 3-2 Big Ten) began the game on the right foot.

And when Wisconsin (9-9, 1-4) fought back and played NU tit for tat through most of the second half, it was McIntosh who guided the Cats back on top to victory.

“B-Mac really started us off that game,” junior forward Sanjay Lumpkin said. “He made some big plays right at the beginning of the game. He makes big plays every night. He’s just a good point guard. He’s a floor general for us and he keeps us going.”

Every time the Badgers seemed to gain momentum, McIntosh quieted the crowd.

When Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ tied the game at 30 early in the second half, it was McIntosh who responded with a pull-up 3-pointer.

When Badger guard Bronson Koenig cut the Cats’ lead to 2 after NU made a late run, it was McIntosh who brought the crowd to its feet with another unassisted three.

Whenever Wisconsin made a shot, Welsh-Ryan looked to NU’s floor general for an answer, and like clockwork, McIntosh delivered on cue.

“I want him to believe he’s that good, because he is,” coach Chris Collins said. “And I want him to feel like when he’s out there, he’s in control.”

It wasn’t too long ago that McIntosh was the target of criticism during the Cats’ two-game skid against Maryland and Ohio State. Many, including both McIntosh and Collins, believed the point guard had tried to do too much by himself.

He certainly spearheaded NU’s attack on Tuesday, but he also found the right balance between scoring and facilitating. And once the final buzzer sounded, nobody was faulting him in the slightest.

“I got off to a quick start and then I tried to be a facilitator and (assistant) coach (Armon) Gates got on me a little bit, telling me that if I have it going, just to keep going,” McIntosh said.

With NU off to its finest Big Ten start since 1968 and looking to do more damage once senior center Alex Olah returns, the spotlight will be locked firmly on McIntosh as he tries to bring the team as far as it will go.

Tuesday, with plenty on the line, he showed that he was more than capable of handling the challenge.

“He was just magnificent,” Collins said. “People don’t start realizing that this is one of the best — forget about guards — he’s one of the best players in the Big Ten.”

Twitter: @GarrettJochnau